Throughout the year there are two days on which gags, pranks and tricks are acceptable and expected. These are of course April 1st and October 31st; April Fool’s Day and Halloween, respectively. Both are a great opportunity for pranksters to stretch their funny bones but in different directions. All Fool’s Day is a one-day endeavor with mischievously clever gags as the highlight which brings laughs from the prankster as well as the pranked. All Hallows Eve, on the other hand, has traditional elements with tricks as more of a background action. However, unlike the one day for fools, these tricks can run the course of the holiday’s month long reign of terror. These pranks are more horror than humor, with scares and screams desired rather than laughter.

Much akin to this week’s tale of terror, so without further ado — ladies and gents, boys and girls welcome…to Hell-o-ween…

Michael Finley wasn’t known to be a practical joker. Pushing into his fifties Mike was a former high-school athlete turned desk jockey. Overweight, a heavy smoker, social drinker and never making it to the gym despite years of resolutions. A pleasant guy, but oft came across as the no-nonsense type.

In truth Michael was a rather devious trickster who preferred to remain anonymous. Most of his pranking was directed towards those who shared his suburban home. His high school sweetheart, now wife of 30+ years, Registered Nurse Mary and their 13 year old son Trevor. They unknowingly fell prey to Mike’s “jokes” which were never intended to be funny.

Mike secretly took pride in terrorizing his household, the looks of horror on his family’s faces and his pokerfaced resolve. He had even installed cameras throughout the home to capture moments of enticed terror so he could replay them at his leisure. His macabre fascination for his family’s fright was borderline sadism.

Two years prior, Mrs. Finley’s arachnophobia had prompted him to purchase a live tarantula. This he placed in her desk, watched the monitors and waited. Her screams thrilled him and he got to play the hero too — dealing with the spider — which meant simply moving it to another place in the room.

Last fall, using a voice altering device, he made threatening calls to Trevor’s cell. These he repeated on the houses answering service. The boy had openly cried and while comforting him Michael could barely contain the smile trying to spread across his face. But now what? They had just gotten home from the store and Michael felt that devilish urge. Mary and Trevor were putting away the groceries, and as he walked to the master bedroom a dark thought struck him. Seconds later he burst into the kitchen- “There’s a man in the back bedroom!!!”

The moment was priceless — definitely worth re-watching in slow-motion. Mary’s jaw, and the pickle jar in her hand, dropped exploding onto the linoleum. Trevor froze and went quite pale. Playing his part, Michael ushered them out the door to “safety.” Then, despite their protests, grabbing one of Trevor’s bats, he re-entered the house. Once inside he savored the terrified helpless images broadcasting live from outside. After a bit he stepped out and they rushed to his side, both in tears. Holding back a grin he comforted them, sincerely apologizing…he had just gotten spooked by a coat hanging on the bedpost.

A week later, much to Mary’s disappointment, Mike was working late and wasn’t home to help when the new bedroom furniture was delivered that afternoon. To make matters worse she’d been called into work and had to leave things unfinished. Mike arrived home an hour later to a dark house. Flipping on the hall light he made his way to the bedroom. It was when he was reaching for the light-switch that he saw the man standing across the room. Mike froze, took a step back, held up his hand in a defensive gesture… and that’s when the man in the back bedroom reached out for him. Later that night Mary was horrified when she came home and found her husband. Lying on the bedroom floor … clutching his left arm… with a look of pure terror frozen on his face… just an arm’s length away… from the new full-length mirror she’d yet to find a place for.

Next week: Helloween continues.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at –[email protected].

Hope to hear from ya until then try and stay focused. See ya.